“Yoga for the Inflexible Male,” out Nov. 19, was inspired by local yoga classes
The progression from yoga novice to writing a yoga book has been natural for Roy Parvin, Cloverdale resident and writer of the upcoming “Yoga for the Inflexible Male.”
Starting in 2017, a succession of events — Cloverdale getting a yoga studio, the studio starting a class geared toward men who may be hesitant to start practicing yoga, Parvin penning an article about the class — led to the creation of the book, which serves as a level-headed guide to different yoga poses.
After hearing about Yoga on Center opening a Cloverdale location, Parvin pitched the idea of them hosting a class specifically geared toward men like him, “who had always wanted to do yoga, but were too proud to do it in front of a woman,” he said. “We’re inflexible, we have sports injuries, the whole sense of yoga is really oppositional to a man because we really like to be competitive and yoga isn’t competitive.”
“I’m not a yoga guy,” Parvin said. “I got into yoga in the first place because I had a hellaciously bad sleep problem … when medicine seemed to fail, yoga prevailed and was one of the only things that dealt with the fallout of not sleeping.”
Following the start of the class, Parvin penned an article for the Reveille about the class under the pseudonym “Yoga Matt” — the same name that “Yoga for the Inflexible Male” is being published under.
Soon after the class began, it gained in popularity, filling up among community members.
“Every week all these guys who look like they’re going to go to the grocery store to pick up a quart of milk show up. Not yoga guys,” Parvin said. “We have this great camaraderie in this class, so I got an idea pretty quickly that there was something to this class.”
From there, Parvin started kicking around the idea of writing a book and his wife, Janet Vail (referred to in the book as Beth Matt), wrote the proposal that would eventually land the Yoga Matt persona a book deal from Random House’s Ten Speed Press imprint.
Writing as Yoga Matt is a step away from Parvin’s normal writing tone, which usually leans more somber, he said.
Each yoga pose is split into three varied poses — the good, the not-so-good and the ugly — and is meant to serve as an introduction to the craft.
The Yoga Matt character serves as a microphone for introducing the poses, and Parvin is careful to note that his narrative isn’t meant to be an authority on yoga. Rather, Parvin enlisted Yoga on Center’s yoga for men class instructor Jerry Sinclair to advise on best practices for yoga.
“I use a lot of humor in the book and it’s to sort of coax guys into doing yoga,” Parvin said. “I noticed that at the end of class everybody would brag about who was the worst and it was all about being embarrassed about being there. We would all try to take this low ground that we were the worst and it was a way of dealing with the fact that we were doing something we were uncomfortable with. I thought that that would be a nice hand-hold for people in there, that there’s a lot of different variations no matter how limber you are.”
The book as a whole has community woven through it. Cloverdale resident and local artist Richard Sheppard provided the illustrations of each of the yoga pose, 120 in total. One of the illustrated characters in the book is based on Sinclair. Yoga on Center co-owner Jenn Russo penned the book’s introduction, too.
“In a very online age, we did this very locally,” Parvin said. “I think it’s about embracing a new neighbor — meaning the yoga studio, and embracing my idea,” he said.
Following the positive response to the class starting in Cloverdale, a Healdsburg counterpart was added to Yoga on Center’s Healdsburg location.
“Both classes continue weekly and are very popular with our male students,” Russo said. “We have offered Yoga for Men in the past and never seen the interest that we have seen since Jerry started teaching the classes. He is an inspirational teacher and makes the students feel comfortable the moment they walk in the door.”
In celebration of the book’s release on Nov. 18, Parvin will be rebranding Cloverdale as “Yogadale,” with a “Welcome to Yogadale — home of Yoga Matt” sign on the Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce’s Highway 101 announcement board.
Russo said that Yoga on Center’s Healdsburg location will be hosting a book release and signing with Parvin on Monday, Nov. 18. Sinclair will start the event by teaching a yoga class from 4 to 4:30 p.m., followed by a brief talk with Parvin about the book. A Cloverdale counterpart to the release will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 19, with the yoga class starting at 5 p.m.
Free yoga classes will be held at Yoga on Center in Cloverdale on Saturday, Nov. 23 in conjunction with a 2 p.m. book signing that Parvin is having at The Trading Post.
“It’s a book signing party, but people don’t have to buy books,” Parvin said. “I want to thank everybody in town and we’re going to try to do the largest flash mob pose of Warrior 2 in all of Yogadale history in the parking lot out back.”